Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Camellia House at 'Planting Fields'

The Camellia House at William R. Coe's 'Planting Fields' in Oyster Bay, designed by Guy Lowell between 1917-22. This was also closed last year for restoration work but was recently reopened. Click HERE for more on 'Planting Fields'.




13 comments:

magnus said...

Not to bash New York State again (much as they deserve it), but the center pool in the Camellia House was originally white tiled and about five feet deep. It is now lined with black plastic (yes it really is)and about three inches deep. They've also added a cheap cement fountain, such as one would fine at a second rate garden center, under the double staircase at the end of the Camellia house Who gives them their little ideas, I wonder? Zero taste, zero sense of history and the limited wherewithall to execute their ill considered ideas in the cheapest manner possible. The Central Park Conservancy in New York has largely addressed the issue of poor State and City stewardship in Manhattan. Planting Fields and Welwyn deserve a similar group.

The Down East Dilettante said...

FIVE FEET? Was it used for swimming?

And it is always a complete mystery to me, when good documentation is available that bad curatorial decisions are made. And, even when they think that it is an improvement, the fact is that they should still follow history..

And, while I know that we're off topic here by going up the Hudson, as I've mentioned before, their decisions at the Mills Mansion, one of the most interesting gilded age estates, all of which destroy something of the integrity of the place are just astoundingly stupid. Yes, that's what I said. STUPID. (although in fairness, the tour there is a highly intelligent one---well interpreted, even as asphalt walks insensitively placed, paved over gardens, cemented over facades, and poorly maintained everything take over....

magnus said...

DED: I was always astonished by the depth of the center pool. There were no steps, so it's hard to imagine that it was used for bathing, and if I remember correctly, there was a central pedestal on which a large potted azalea was displayed, making the whole thing even less conducive to a swim. But that's what it was, and why the "consevators" felt obliged to fiddle with it is a mystery to me- especially with black plastic, of all things.

I haven't been to the Mills place, but I'm longing to go. And no surprise that New York keeps it so poorly. A huge disappointment, yes. A surprise, no.

The Down East Dilettante said...

After following the sad story of State politics in New York over the last couple of years (making us here grateful for our boring, unimaginative, but decent governor), I have no trouble understanding the bureaucratic heavy-handedness that goes into these sites. And of course public safety can take a toll---necessary regulations whose requirements are not creatively solved---

For example, I would imagine that the pool depth was an issue of public safety (here in Maine, all pools of a certain depth require four foot high enclosure), but if the pool was necessarily made shallow, one can understand. But black polypropelene liner? Puhleeze.

Of course, this discussion leaves out one important detail---hat Zach's photos should make us gasp in wonder that these people had a camellia house on the order of a public conservatory...such luxury.

Which brings us back to the last point. Keeping these places up in style requires not only buckets of state funds for which there is intense competition, but curatorial taste. Funny, the English do this sort of thing so well....

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Magnus - those are the stories I like to heart about. Bring back the dairy, carry the crap across the street and have the monks sell the produce from the re-invented-Olmsted-designed-manure-enhanced veggie garden. Did Peacock Point also have a dairy that sold milk to the public?

http://wikimapia.org/#lat=40.8970355&lon=-73.6191273&z=15&l=0&m=b&show=/11868932/

You don't hear much on the Ward Cheney place. Any insight?

http://wikimapia.org/#lat=40.8970355&lon=-73.6190844&z=15&l=0&m=b&show=/11868852/LIGC-Ward-Cheney

Magnus - Latin for great - Magnus effect- is the phenomenon whereby a spinning object flying in a fluid creates a whirlpool of fluid around itself or are you a robot fighter?

With all this talk on the Pratts I have to wonder if Dosoris Kid is out there in cyberspace?????

Sassafrass is a newer build.


Playhouses - Pembroke, out. Kiluna Farms in. Payson? Magnus when you were at the "farm" do you recall seeing anything? I wouldn't think Greentree would have two courts especially so far from the main house? Monica Randal writes the place was part of the party circuit. You can still make out a imprint of where it stood at Bing. What about Indian Neck Hall?{wasn't there a question awhile back foe candidates for biggest house on the island, this would qualify} No - its a gym built in 1938.

http://www.oakdaleny.com/OakdaleNY_ns.htm

What will Cuomo bring??

magnus said...

HPHS- let's leave Magnus as "great" or "large" (actually, it was my grandfather's middle name- MagnusPetrie.)

I don't believe that Armstrong sold its products on-site- I think it just delivered. To all our neighbors as well, so while I can't tell you if it was a financial success, it was certainly ubiquitous.

As for "the Farm", Mrs. P was a family friend and a great gardener. I worked in the gardens there the summer of my freshman year in college. I got to know both Kiluna and Greentree intimately.

VisualNotes said...

Not to keep us off topic, but it is my understanding that, as for the Mills place, that cemented facade DED was referring to was added in the 1950's when historical preservation in America was not exactly top priority. In fact they are currently working on restoring the facades to the original white stucco. It does raise questions though about why that house was let go so much when other places, the Vanderbilt house in Hyde Park in particular, is so magnificently kept? Perhaps Newport has the right idea- turn these places over to local and private historical groups who have the expertise, connections, and time to do the proper fund raising required. After all, the fact that these houses take so much money to maintain is why the original families no longer live there- And why most of the houses posted here are pulled down...

magnus said...

And what a great idea for the Monks- raising vegetables and selling milk is certainly a more wholesome occupation than what some denizens of the church have been up to recently (judging from the headlines and all). Zach had a wonderful link to a site in which owners of large properties offered them to film crews and such. The Monks had Ormstead house listed with a sharp advisory that NUDITY IS NOT PERMITTED!!!! They don't know what they're missing, the poor dears.

magnus said...

And despite my carping, DED is 100% correct: the Camellia House is an amazing structure and an amazing relic from a vanished age. It should and does make the visitor gasp in wonder. And the work that the State has done in replenishing the soil in the beds themselves is deserving of all possible praise- as is the effort made when the house- Coe Hall- was opened for Arbor Day this years and the rooms were filled with all manner of cut flowering branches.

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Arthur V. Davis - not technically a indoor tennis court but Casino says Playhouse in my book.


http://wikimapia.org/#lat=40.8882277&lon=-73.5571522&z=18&l=0&m=b&show=/14167728/Casino-Arthur-V-Davis-Estate

Anonymous said...

I bet most people in the area had Armstrong delivering milk and eggs.I remember it well. It would be interesting to see if the Armstrong's have kept their books.
The camellia collection, I believe was the largest of its kind to that time.

ChipSF said...

State control is definitely hard on older properties but at least they are preserved and not razed. In the SF area our best preserved house is Filoli.
It is fortunately owned by the National Trust but is operated locally by the Friends of Filoli. This has been a great model and we have over 600 volunteers doing all sorts of things, including helping the gardening staff with weeding on Mondays.

ChipSF said...

HPHS -
I agree - the Casino is in (& an ampitheatre outside).

As a side note, somewhat north/east of the A.V.Davis place is the Mrs. C. Porter Wilson residence "The Chimneys". That was featured yesterday as the Estate of the Day on Luxist.com. Some great pictures of the grounds, the interiors and several outbuildings...